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Rounds Says Congress Needs To Regain Discipline

April 6, 2014, 2:24 PM

Rounds Says Congress Needs To Regain Discipline

Former Gov. Mike Rounds says he wants to bring South Dakota common sense to Washington, D.C., and keep Washington out of South Dakota.

Rounds, one of five Republicans seeking the party's nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, said Congress is broken and it needs to regain the discipline to get budgets and farm bills done on time so business owners have some predictability. Lawmakers also need to scale back the burdensome regulatory environment to get the economy moving again, he said.

"To me, that is one of the most very important things that we have to do in order to allow our businesses to start to build and grow again, to get the regulatory agencies off their backs," said Rounds, 59.

Rounds, president and chief executive of insurance and real estate agency Fischer, Rounds & Associates Inc., spent 10 years in the state Senate from 1991 through 2000 before running for governor in 2002. He was anything but a front-runner for that GOP nomination, raising just a fraction of the millions spent by businessman Steve Kirby of Sioux Falls and then-Attorney General Mark Barnett.

But as Barnett and Kirby traded shots in attack ads, the self-proclaimed "guy behind door No. 3" crisscrossed the state in a small plane and a Chevy Suburban to win over voters with a positive message. Rounds took the GOP primary with 44 percent of the vote, won in November and held the governor's office for two terms.

With near-total name recognition and two big statewide wins to his credit, Rounds is the clear frontrunner now, said Jon Schaff, a political science professor at Northern State University.

Schaff said the recent investigation into financial misconduct involving Rounds' former economic development director doesn't appear to have hit too closely to Rounds. Schaff said the main criticism Rounds is likely to face ahead of the June primary is that he overspent during his governorship.

"Clearly he was not a complete fiscal hawk, and so he's been already attacked by some folks on that," Schaff said.

Rounds, the oldest of 11 children, said that one of the greatest threats to American families is the nation's new health care law, which he said eliminates competition and will limit innovation. South Dakota once had 17 different companies providing health care insurance, he said, and the state helped guarantee renewability and portability. Under the Affordable Care Act, that number is down to three.

"American families will make good choices if they know that some companies will provide appropriate service and others will not," Rounds said. "It doesn't take long in the market for the bad apples to be found out."

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